I've briefly mentioned the book Changes That Heal in my blogs over the last year, and I just can't get over how differently I relate to people now, how I've been able to let go of so much of my anxiousness, my attempt at control over situations, the world, and people. And as I see through healed eyes I now see so much more clearly the pain of those around me. There is no doubt this book has changed my life!
I've recommended these books to so many people, but there are a few close people who don't have time or inclination to read books like these so I've been spending some of my time trying to summarize the most key principles and blog about them so that some of them, or even just one of them, may be able to start applying these healing principles to their own life.
First of all, here are some key indicators, if they are consistent or prolonged, that something in your life needs healing, that something you are struggling with is out of control that you alone cannot change:
~Feelings of guilt ~Broken Relationships
~Anger/Resentment ~Eating/Substance Issues
~Sadness ~Judgementalness/Highly Intolerant
~Aimlessness/Emptiness ~Excessive Care-giving
~Panic/Anxiety ~Feeling Obligated
~Indirect Resistance ~Blaming
These are just a few of the indicators, the ones I've felt personally.
So, to start I'll summarize by saying that just about every issue we have boils down to relationships; our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with others. Not being in a healthy relationship with any of those will result in some brokenness. But what does it take to make those relationships right?
There are 2 integral ingredients, both for personal health~change~growth, and consequently healthy relationships:
God's truth - it is truth that God created the world with order and structure, laws of nature and moral law. God knew that even his original design, flawless as it was, needed guidance, needed one point of obedience, Adam & Eve had one law, not to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil. He's given us his written truth, he became living, breathing truth, and he gave us a universe full of the truths he created.
Our truth - there is reality and then there is our reality. When we live outside of healthy relationship with God and others we can create our own reality, our own truth, because we have no 3 dimensional perspective. Only by opening ourselves to being completely honest about everything; who we are, what we've been through, what we've done, etc., can we begin to see the world as it really is and then act on that reality, instead of making choices based on the reality we created, and live alone in. Disowning our truth, our feelings (good or bad), is to ignore our responsibility for them, we can't act on what we deny, and that is one of the most destructive things we can do to ourselves and others.
Relational truth - we were created to be relational. God is a relational being, three in one, and we were created in his image...we have a built in need to have relationships because we are just 'one in one'. And deep relationships, with truth and accountability are the kind of relationships we crave, because accountability will keep us from drifting back into hiding and hypotheticals, they will remind you of the truth you desire but forget. Only in complete relational truth will vulnerability and humility flourish.
God's grace - we are safe from condemnation with God's grace. He doesn't want us to feel condemned or judged, he has something to teach us but he wants to teach us in love, to give us freedom, and to give us healthy relationships, and he gives us mercy in abundance when we mess up.
In John 8:2-11, Jesus tells the adulterous woman, "Neither do I condemn you (grace). Go now and leave your life of sin (truth)."
And God knows that he who is forgiven much loves much. Luke 7:40-43, "Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them do you suppose will love him more?"
Our grace - if anyone's theology will not allow them to help someone who is hurting then their theology is not big enough to hold the love of God. Some Christians label all problems as sinful, but being sinful isn't actions or results, it is a state of being we are all in constantly. Labelling other people as sinful is trying to create a community of 'only perfect people allowed', we all know that no one is perfect or ever will be, pretending otherwise is denial. So realizing this we need to give everyone the grace we hope people will give us. Only being a grace-full person will make you a 'safe' person for other people to trust, and without trust their can be no real intimacy.
Micah 6:8, "And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Relational grace - we hide within ourselves not only because of truth but we hide because we've have emotional baggage we haven't experienced grace in. We either have been injured by others or we have injured others ourselves, and both of those cause guilt/shame. But there is grace in admitting that pain, exposing it to the light of day. Humility became a virtue because of the founder of Christianity - Jesus, but now it can be hard to find a Christian community that welcomes a spirit of humility that includes openness about struggles with painful issues. But remember, 'blessed are the poor in spirit', those who can admit they don't have it 'all together spiritually' will find grace in relationships, because other people are drawn to vulnerability and humility. People are drawn to the truly humble because in their presence they feel grace for their own pain is possible and they feel like they are with someone who is honest and trustworthy.
Grace (safe from condemnation) + Truth (reality, true intimacy) = acceptance of your true self (good and bad) -> leads to healthy relationships with yourself, others, and God. And when you are in healthy relationships it is much easier to grow and change in the areas of your life you know you need to, because you are surrounded by grace-full and honest support.
There is a third ingredient but, I'll save that for another post....this was quite enough to chew on :)